SAD? PERHAPS DEPRESSED?
DEALING WITH THE BLUES AND DEPRESSING THOUGHTS
There's something about the middle of the night - the hour of the wolf - that calls forth our darkest fears and fantasies. Every shadow brings to mind foreboding, sinister or dreary thoughts. Somehow things seem bleaker at 4:00 a.m. than they do at 10 a.m. - a lot bleaker.
If you are suffering now from dark feelings there are some things you can do to help yourself.
First, to help you to relax and be receptive to the help that we offer here, we suggest you start with a few relaxation breaths. Takes just a minute and really helps.
Here we go...
Take a deep, deep breath through your nose.
Deeeeep - and slow - and release it gently through your pursed lips -
like blowing a kiss - all the way out...
Once more - another deep, deep breath - in through your nose -
count up to 8 - Sit up straight so you can fill your lungs all the way to the bottom - and very slowly, very gently - out through your pursed lips as you count down from 8... Close your eyes, relax your muscles and allow the tension to leave your body.
And one more deeeeep breath - in through your nose - and -
blow kiss - out slowly and gently through your pursed lips.
And relax your muscles - all over - every muscle - just relaaaax - like butter - like crusty, old snow melting on a warm, sunny day - from the tip of your head to the tip of your toes.
Feel a bit better? We hope so.
YOU'VE TAKEN A POSITIVE STEP
It's important to acknowledge the positive step you've taken in checking out this site and seeking support. That shows that you don't want to be dragged down by your negative thoughts - and that's a good sign indeed. You want to help yourself to feel better. Good. That's a very healthy desire.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Know that you are not alone. As you are feeling dark and perhaps tormented now by your fears and inner demons, so are others feeling those feelings. You are not alone in your suffering. No matter how alone you feel, you truly are not alone.
A STRANGE FACT
It's good to realize that no matter how bleak things appear right now, come daylight they will appear less bleak. It's just one of those strange facts that we don't understand completely - but we know is true.
LIFE CAN BE HARD
It's just a fact - life can be hard for many of us. There can be much sadness, loss, pain, struggle. These experiences and feelings are especially difficult if you're a sensitive soul - and many of the people who suffer from insomnia are the sensitive, caring, souls - the 'worriers' - the 'responsible ones.' You are also, then, probably one of those who feels things deeply. You're not thick skinned - you're sensitive and therefore more vulnerable to all kinds of feelings.
SADNESS CAN BE ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE
There are times when sadness is absolutely the most appropriate reaction. For instance when we've lost someone dear to us - or when we've suffered some other kind of loss of something or someone important to us. Of course then we'll be sad for a while - that's to be expected - that's normal. Under those circumstances, it's best to simply accept that you're sad - and eventually, as you work through your loss and grief, your sadness will dissipate.
Don't berate yourself for appropriate sadness - just let it be - it's the right feeling for you at this time. Appreciate that you're capable of feeling sad - of feeling what is right for you at this time.
WHEN YOU'RE READY TO CHEER UP A BIT, HERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOURSELF:
ALLOW YOURSELF TO EXPERIENCE A BIT OF BEAUTY
Treat yourself to some beautiful music, a museum, a lovely garden, a book of poems or a climb up a scenic hillside - anywhere you find beauty. We can remember times when we felt sad and discouraged when, onto the radio we were vaguely listening to, came some extraordinarily beautiful music - most probably Mozart - and we were cheered in a profound way. How terrible could "everything" be when there was something so lovely and beautiful in the world?
RECONNECT WITH FRIENDS
Call an old friend who can be relied upon to make you feel better - someone great to talk with. It can feel especially wonderful to call someone you've always been fond of but haven't spoken with recently. You may be surprised how good it feels to talk to such a friend and find out, all over again, how much you have in common.
GET OUT AND BE WITH THE WORLD, MAKE SOME NEW FRIENDS
Being active - out in the world - (one small step at a time, of course) - is a great way to fight the blues. Perhaps there's a project you'd like to work on with others - like, helping the kid down the street build a tree house, tutoring under-privileged kids or decorating the town Christmas tree. These activities feel good in themselves and they put you in touch with others who may offer some company.
When you're ready, get out there and socialize. Join a new activity - a chorus, a bird-watching group, help out in the local soup kitchen, work on the community newspaper or for a local politician, take an adult education class - whatever interests you. (There are so many choices!)
BE SURE TO EAT WELL AND GET YOUR FULL MEASURE OF NUTRIENTS.
This is a time when it's important to eat healthy, wholesome foods - not sugary, fatty junk - or an overload of caffeine - or, of course, alcohol (always a poor choice as a "remedy.")
You might consider vitamins and supplements to help you keep well-nourished. You may want to take certain supplements like St. John's Wort that may help to fight depression.
Also - if you're on medication for any condition, check with your doctor to be sure that the medication isn't a "downer" for you - many medications have that as a side-effect for some people. Often your doctor can switch the medication to something less bothersome.
BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE - GET OUT THERE AND EXERCISE.
If nothing else, walk - everywhere you can. Exercise causes the brain to release endorphins that, wonderfully enough, elevate the mood. Often psychiatrists recommend adding exercise to the treatment of depressed patients, for that very reason. Climb stairs. Park the car far away. Go on a hike. Take up square dancing or swing-dancing - the big craze on college campuses these days. (Our young neighbor - a handsome lad in his 20's - video editor by profession - is out there tango-ing into the wee hours half the nights in the week.)
HELP SOMEONE ELSE
It's hard to stay sad when you're helping others. And there's so much that needs to be done in the world: children to be tutored, the sick and elderly to be visited and comforted, the homeless need to be fed, libraries need help, schools often use volunteers - you get the idea. Getting out there and pitching in can help you as much as it helps the people you're helping.
Maybe it's time for a new nightie or bathrobe? Or time to re-do part of your home - to repaint - or maybe just buy a new bedspread. Or time to start gourmet cooking again, or to take a trip you've always dreamed of.
Massage therapy can help elevate your mood. Have it with a scented oil such as geranium, orange or broom - which are supposed to be good for depression.
GET OUT AND LEARN SOMETHING NEW
It's always good to learn new things - to study subjects of interest to you. Take a course, check some books out of the library, purchase a self-teaching tool for your computer. Maybe teach yourself a new language! Or learn a new skill - like acting - or tap-dancing - or flower arranging.
Keeping a journal is a great activity - especially for someone thoughtful and soulful and reflective. Also, it can play a key role in coming to understand why you're blue and what you can do to help yourself.
JOIN A SUPPORT GROUP
We believe that one key to success in life is having support. If you don't already have a support system in your life, we say start building one now. This is no instant thing, of course - it takes a while but a first step could be finding a group that's dealing with issues of interest to you - or creating your own group. You'll learn about the issue, and about yourself - and you'll surely make some new friends - or at least meet some new people. And you'll be building that all-important tool - a support-system.
Keep the faith. Life can be tough at times and we all have our up-hill battles. But the challenge is to keep on slogging through the muck - looking ahead toward the green meadow with the wild roses in bloom - far off in the distance - or just around the next bend. Sometimes you've just got to go forward on the faith that things will get better - and they usually do.
Here is a lovely piece that we found comforting, by Rabbi David Wolpe (from his column, MUSINGS, in The Jewish Week):
We recite (special prayers) for those who have died, but what of those things that die while we are still alive? Where is the (special prayer) for lost relationships, for dreams and loves that have died, for dimly remembered childhoods and homes and hopes? We live lifetimes of loss, and do not know how to grieve.
There is no promise of painless life. We can never know why the world is so arranged that loss is woven into the fabric of living. Deep faith does not promise that we will never lose, but that we can make the losses of life meaningful. Out of patterns of pain, as well as joy and love, we create a moral work of art. At each moment, circumstance confronts us with the possibility of climbing the ladder of loss to reach higher than we were before.
Let us resolve to take all of life - its tragedies as well as its gladness - and use them to make life more beautiful, more purposeful, more sacred.
And to that we say, Amen.
THERE IS HELP
If you find that you remain sad, longer than you wish or feel is good for you, or appropriate, know that there is help, there is hope - because there are always people who care whom you can turn to and seek comfort and guidance from. Perhaps it also helps if you understand that these people whom you can turn to want to help you. There are many caring, helpful people in the world - people who like to help others - who get pleasure and satisfaction from helping people who need help.
No matter how far gone you may feel you are - there are people who will listen to you and want to help you. You simply have to get yourself into position to receive that help. That is, in order for them to help you, they've got to know about you. They can only know about you if you somehow find a way to contact them. Sometimes it's just a matter of looking up a number in the phone book or Yellow Pages - and, bink - a few minutes later, there you are, talking on the phone - even at 4:00 in the morning - with someone who can help you.
If you feel sad too often - are frequently nervous, anxious, hyper, upset, angry, overwhelmed - these can be signs that something bigger - and more complex - is going on under the surface - something that would best be resolved through professional help. And if that's the case, you will help yourself best by seeking appropriate qualified help at the nearest opportunity.
Here are some symptoms of clinical depression:
Loss of energy, feeling listless or tired all the time.
Feeling very sad or crying a lot.
Feeling blue most of the time.
Having dark moods, frequently.
Gaining or losing weight.
Bingeing or overeating.
Chronic insomnia - or excessive sleeping.
Extreme negativity or pessimism, complaining a lot.
Shouting or having outbursts frequently.
Feeling angry or resentful most of the time.
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed.
Losing interest in sex.
Feeling consistently unworthy, unattractive, guilty, blame-worthy.
Having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly.
Feeling confused, your thoughts are unclear.
Inability to maintain friendships or other relationships.
Overwhelming fears, phobias, delusions.
Frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
A feeling that you'd be better off dead.
Too much reliance on alcohol, drugs or over-the-counter medications for headache, stomachache, back pain or other physical symptoms.
If you have three or more of these symptoms, and they've been with you for more than a few weeks, it's time to seek professional help. For more information, please go to our segment on SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP.
You may find that there are too many problems in your life right now - or you're not coping well with your problems or tasks in life - or you have so many problems you feel overwhelmed. This is another indication that professional help is called for. You will feel a great deal of relief once you find a good therapist to help you work through your problems.
If you are dealing with an addiction, there are many programs to help you.
All of these are serious problems that require professional help. For more information and guidance on SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP, go to the navigation bar to the left.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER - SAD
Be aware that some people are affected by a lack of sunlight during the autumn/winter days, especially in the northern climates - and as a result they feel quite blue. This is a condition that can be often be self-treated - with sunlight. Get outside and be in the sunlight as much as possible. Walk outdoors, bike, visit a garden - especially in the morning hours. Be sure, also, that your home is not dark - lighten up the curtains, paint colors, and other elements that can brighten your environment. If none of this helps, do seek medical treatment.
DEALING WITH UNWANTED NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
If you are awake because horrible, dreaded thoughts come into your mind - thoughts about sickness, death, violence and torture or other terrible things - here is something you can do that can help:
You can tell those thoughts to go away.
Simply say to them, "Go away bad thoughts. I don't want you disturbing me. Get out, go away and stay away."
You might be surprised at how effective that command can be!
And the more often you employ it, the more it will help you rid yourself of these unwanted, hurtful fantasies.
If you are frequently bothered by unpleasant, unwanted thoughts and fantasies - and telling them to go away doesn't take care of the problem - you may want to consider seeking professional help. There is much help for problems such as this, today. Don't suffer needlessly - get help!
You may find our AFFIRMATION TO HELP CALM YOU DOWN FROM DEPRESSING THOUGHTS helpful. (Below - Scroll further down this page...)
IF YOU ARE UPSET OR DISTRESSED
If you are dealing with extreme upset or distress or emotional problems that you feel are overwhelming, the most effective long-term resolution for that, we believe, is to seek professional help without delay.
For instance if you find that you're feeling consistently overwhelmed or sad or discouraged or lonely or negative or perhaps are thinking of death often - in other words you're depressed and/or distressed - we believe you ought to seek professional help as soon as possible - without delay.
THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE
If you find you are thinking of suicide, you are dealing with an emergency that must be treated as an emergency - that is immediately - right now. Suicide is never a good solution for any problem, no matter how hopeless things appear.
Try to remember that everyone has problems. Problems are part of the nature of life. Perhaps you feel that others don't have the problems you have. And maybe they don't. But be assured they've got plenty of their own. Most of us do.
Sometimes we get all wound up with our problems and lose perspective - we can't see a way out. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a way out - simply that we can't see it - for the moment.
Just talking your problems over with someone else - especially someone knowledgeable and helpful - who knows what to say to comfort you and help you - can open up new possibilities that you couldn't see before - possibilities that change everything.
There are always more good reasons to stay alive than to quit. The fact that you have come to this site - and read this far - shows that you want to live, that you really want to deal with your problems - and that you recognize that there is help out there - in the world. And it indicates that you would like to get the help you need.
We encourage you to do just that - without delay.
We recommend that you call a Suicide Help Line right now - no matter what time of day or night it is - many services are open 24 hours. Do a Search on the web...
You may find these help lines listed in the white pages of your telephone directory under "Suicide."
Also - you can always call 911 in an emergency. Or go to your local hospital emergency room. Remember that.
And also remember that everyone in the civilized world would prefer that you stay alive - no matter how terrible your situation - than that you take your life. No one who is decent and helpful and responsible and half-way human wants you to take your life. That's just a fact. We hope you will respect that fact.
If you have been up for a while now and it's late, too late to get a good night's sleep, we offer some TECHNIQUES to help get you through the day when you feel wretched from sleep deprivation.
You might want to read about USING PRAYER TO HELP you.
HERE IS AN AFFIRMATION TO HELP CALM YOU DOWN FROM DEPRESSION AND NEGATIVE THINKING
Speak each statement outloud, (softly) to yourself. Saying it outloud - to yourself - makes it most effective.
I take good care of myself;
I take good care of myself by taking positive actions to help myself;
I enjoy taking good care of myself;
I take good care of myself even when I feel down;
I am taking care of myself now by soothing myself;
I am soothing and calming myself;
I am taking care of myself now by letting go of all negative thinking;
I am letting go of my depression;
I am allowed to let go of my depression;
I am allowing myself to let go of depressing thoughts and negative thinking;
I am allowing myself to relax;
I am letting my muscles relax;
I am calming down and relaxing now;
I am releasing all tension;
I am releasing my negativity and sadness;
I let all these tense, negative feelings fly away;
I am letting go of depression and sadness and negative thinking;
I can picture a little trap door on the top of my head;
I open this little door on the top of my head and let all negativity and depression and sadness fly away from within me;
I am releasing all negative thoughts and depression from my system;
As I release negativity and depression, I am feeling more and more relaxed;
I am allowing myself to feel very relaxed;
I am letting my muscles relax;
My muscles are relaxing;
All the muscles in my body are relaxing;
I am allowing myself to drift into a restful sleep;
I am allowing myself to fall into a deep and satisfying sleep;
As I relax I feel myself getting more and more sleepy;
I feel peaceful,
I am allowed to feel peaceful and good,
I am now allowing myself to feel peaceful and good,
I feel sleepy,
I am feeling very sleepy;
I am feeling very peaceful and very sleepy;
I am feeling very relaxed and sleepy;
I am ready to fall asleep now;
I'm happy to fall asleep.
Now at this point, place yourself in a beautiful, peaceful, pleasurable environment - perhaps some place where you've been in the past, some place where you have happy memories - or maybe some place you can simply imagine - like a beautiful tropical island - or a lovely garden on a perfect spring day - or a fairytale castle - and see yourself in that lovely, peaceful place - experiencing a sense of peace and enjoyment.
We hope you fall asleep soon and have pleasant dreams!
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